First Financial FCU Hosts First NJ Retirement Fair for Staff at Asbury Park High School



(photo of Asbury park high school)

Wall, N.J. – Going back to the building where it was founded, First Financial Federal Credit Union brought an informative and interactive new Retirement Fair program to the staff of Asbury Park High School last month, which also happened to be the first ever Retirement Fair held in New Jersey. Throughout the day, teachers visited the library during their professional development period to learn whether they could afford the same lifestyle they are currently living once they retire, based on retirement scenarios.

The Retirement Fair was a hands-on experience where educators were provided a worksheet and then visited individual lifestyle stations such as health and fitness, food and clothing, travel and entertainment – and were given a calculation based upon a series of short questions. Once the teachers visited each station, they added their calculations and compared them to the national average to see if their current retirement savings plan was in the right place or if it needed to be adjusted.

First Financial’s Business Development Manager, Matthew Brazinski, and Investment & Retirement Center Coordinator, Samantha Schertz, gave a brief history of the credit union, explaining how it was founded right there, in the halls of Asbury Park High School in 1936. In the debriefing after the station visits, Mary LaFerriere, Financial Advisor with CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., reviewed the experience with the group, pointing out the various components of retirement to keep in mind, including inflation, debt, expenditures, investments, and more. The participants were then able to schedule an appointment with the credit union’s Investment & Retirement Center if they wished to delve deeper into retirement planning or had questions about their results.

”Retirement planning is one of the top priorities for our members here at First Financial, and we were honored to be the first in the state to host this Retirement Fair event at Asbury Park High School – the very location in which we began nearly 80 years ago,” said Issa Stephan, President/CEO at First Financial. “We hope the educators who attended realize the importance of planning and saving for retirement, and if they need help or advice – they have somewhere local to go, to help them achieve their dream goals and lifestyle.”

The National Credit Union Foundation’s REAL Solutions Program in cooperation with CUNA Mutual Group have developed this new Retirement Fair program to assist credit unions in helping their members better prepare for retirement. The fair is an interactive learning experience, similar to the popular Financial Reality Fair program offered through the New Jersey Credit Union League Foundation.

Learn “How To Drive Your Business Forward So It Doesn’t Drive You Into The Ground” at this FREE Seminar in October 2014

drivingbizforwardsemHave you ever been on a 1st date, it went well – but you didn’t have a 2nd one because there was something missing? This is the same with your marketing. Marketing is a function of creating a true emotional connection, not just posting flyers and social media updates. Join us for a FREE and interactive seminar presented by Jack Gottlieb, President of The Total Solutions Group, Inc.

Learn how to use marketing strategy to drive your business forward, including:

  • How to build a marketing approach/strategy that drives your business
  • Build a brand that creates the connection you want that transitions to the opportunity you want to have
  • Implement a system that will allow you to balance working on your business and still achieve sustainable results

Join us on Tuesday, October 28th at 8:30am for networking and a light breakfast followed by our seminar, “How To Drive Your Business Forward So It Doesn’t Drive You Into The Ground.” The seminar will be held at First Financial’s Corporate Office located at 1800, Rt. 34 North, Building 3, Suite 302, Wall, NJ. Space is limited – register below.

Register Now!

Jack Gottlieb is the President of The Total Solutions Group, Inc. a strategic consulting, training and coaching firm committed to driving a sustainable increase to an organization’s results, value proposition and culture. Jack brings 14 years of proven high level success along with the collective capability of his team and advisory board. Jack has also been one of the highest ranked speakers at various state wide SHRM (Society of Human Resource Managers) Annual Conferences as well as the New Jersey Organizational Development Annual Conferences for the past 7 years. Jack also serves on the Executive Board Collegiate Empowerment which is an educational firm committed to driving systemic change and impact for Colleges and Universities. Jack also is actively involved with two universities. The first is Kutztown University where he is one of the key leaders of the College of Business Advisory Board to support their efforts in further development and expansion. The second is with Rider University with their Center for the Development of Leadership Skills.

Learn Credit Management & Debt Reduction at this FREE Seminar in October 2014

credit:debtseminarAre you interested in improving your credit score, paying down debt, and saving money in order to get your finances on track? If so, allow the experts at First Financial to provide you with insightful information to help you manage your credit & debt in this free seminar.

Attending this seminar, you will learn:

  • What affects your credit score
  • What makes up your credit score and how to improve it
  • How to budget and cut spending
  • How to promptly pay off debt

This FREE Credit Management & Debt Management Seminar will begin at 6:00pm on Thursday, October 23rd at First Financial’s Neptune Branch. The seminar will teach attendees ways to keep their credit score where it should be in just a few simple steps. The seminar is located at 783 Wayside Road (Off Route 66) in Neptune. Register today, space is limited. 

Register Now!

College Financial Reality: Maybe A Cruise Was A Bad Idea


Candice Kuipers, an Ocean County College student from Berkeley, speaks at a financial reality fair with Matt Brazinski, business development manager for First Financial Federal Credit Union. (Photo: BOB BIELK/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER).


Candace Kuipers sat down at a table with a calculator, lined up her wages with her expenses, and came up $1,260.09 short.

It was going to be a tough month.

“Probably the cruise,” said Kuipers, 18, of Berkeley. “Shouldn’t have gotten the cruise. Bad idea. And the car. I shouldn’t have gotten a new car.”

Kuipers was one of about 200 Ocean County College students who attended a financial literacy forum here Thursday that was sponsored by First Financial Federal Credit Union.

It was a tough lesson for a generation that has grown up with mixed messages. They have watched their parents struggle in the aftermath of the Great Recession; and they have been bombarded with images of reality stars who live the high life with no discussion about how they pay for it.

A recent survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found only two in five consumers have a budget and keep close track of spending.

Education lacking

“The key is financial education,” said Issa Stephan, president and chief executive officer for First Financial. “That’s what we have been lacking in this country. Since the 2008 problem, there has been more (emphasis on financial literacy) than at any other time. Financial education is the key.”

Students were given a worksheet with the salary they could expect, based on their major. They took out taxes, health insurance and retirement savings to calculate their take-home pay. And then they walked from station to station to see what the world had to offer.

There were new cars and baseball games, yoga classes and pets, mortgage payments and gadgets. And there were unexpected, budget-busting items such as car repairs and parking tickets. Students learned they really can’t have it all — at least, not without going deep in debt.

“I was going to get a house, but instead I got an apartment,” said Isaiah Brown, 18, of Manchester. “Food was $400, now it’s $200. And clothes. Instead of suits, go more casual.”


Ocean County College students Gabi Tartaglione (left) Brick, and Nicole Flesche, Toms River, participate in the financial reality fair sponsored by First Financial Federal Credit Union. (Photo: BOB BIELK/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER).


Better career paths

The event was part of a course called Student Success that’s designed to prepare students for what awaits them. And educators have found that students who learn these lessons early in their college careers are more likely to graduate and improve their career paths, said Maureen Reustle, dean of academic services at Ocean County College.

The goal is to get them to say, ” ‘Oh my gosh, I have to think about this,’ ” Reustle said.

The students could have been forgiven for losing all hope in their future. Their salaries weren’t nearly as much as they expected. Even a non-luxury automobile could cost nearly $25,000. And how were they going to find money for a security deposit, much less pay their rent?

But Candace Kuipers wasn’t discouraged. The cruise can wait.

“I’m still learning,” she said.

Original article written by Michael Diamond of the Asbury Park Press.

Our Fall 2014 Newsletter is Here!

Our Fall Bi-Annual Newsletter has arrived! In a continued effort to “go green,” we’re publishing our newsletter electronically – it can also be found on our website and social media sites. Paper copies will be available in our branches in the coming weeks – stay tuned. This Fall “First Edition” newsletter covers some great new topics and talks about some of the exciting events and promotions going on at First Financial for the rest of 2014.

The Fall Newsletter Magazine features the following articles:

  • Upcoming First Financial Seminars (October – November 2014)
  • New Mobile App Announcement
  • “How to Save Money by Simplifying Your Life” Article
  • Note from the CEO
  • New Instagram Announcement
  • “Living in Retirement” – IRC Article
  • Groundbreaking Event Photos & New Freehold/Howell Service Center Address
  • Tell a Friend Referral Program with Holiday Bonus Offer
  • “4 Ways to Save” Financial Tips
  • 2014 Erma Dorrer Literary Scholarship Recipients and Photo
  • Penny Smart’s Food Truck & Restaurant Birthday Bash Summary with Photos
  • Important information, holidays, phone numbers, and branch locations

To view a copy of the newsletter, click here.


Things to Do on a Budget in Monmouth & Ocean Counties this October 2014

Family HalloweenOctober is a “spooktacular” month full of fall festivals, gorgeous scenery, Halloween-themed activities, and tons of places to pick pumpkins and fresh produce to enjoy this wonderful season. Enjoy the last month of outdoor activities before the winter weather rolls in, and take advantage of these free and/or inexpensive festivities that are right here in Monmouth & Ocean counties!

Saturday, October 4: Join in on “Hollowgraves Haunted Manor,” New Jersey’s spookiest attraction at Keansburg Amusement Park! Families can enjoy rides, food & drink specials, costume contests and more throughout the day. For more information, call 732-495-1400.

The feel-good spirit of Highlands’ 14th ANNUAL Oktoberfest is modeled after the traditional Munich, Germany Oktoberfest with an emphasis on eating; drinking and being merry while providing something for everyone. Authentic German food, live music, dancing and other great entertainment will be part of the Highlands’ Oktoberfest celebration taking place in Veterans Park from 2-9pm. Admission and parking is FREE - the rain date is October 5th from 12-8pm. For more information, call 732-291-4713.

Last year The New Jersey Zombie Walk proved to the world that the Jersey Shore lives, breaking a Guinness World Record for gathering 9,592 “undead” zombies! Are you ready to stumble the streets of Asbury Park in the name of a zombie’s favorite thing….BRAINS? This year it’s Zombies vs. Brain Cancer! The 2014 New Jersey Zombie Walk will kick off “GREY MATTERS,” a campaign that spreads awareness about brain cancer. For times, details, facts, and registration visit the link above. For more information, call 732-775-7676.

Friday, October 10 & Saturday, October 11: Head on down to Allaire Village (Allaire State Park, Farmingdale) from 7:30-9pm for an interactive adaptation of the classic ghost story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” with Neill Hartley. The special program will be held in the Allaire Chapel for just $15 per person. Advanced purchase recommended! For more information, call 732-919-3500.

Saturday, October 11: Ocean Grove’s Fall Festival and Craft Show is now a newly expanded, all-day street fair featuring over 180 arts and crafts vendors displaying and selling their wares just in time for the holidays. There will also be the live music of Jo Wymer from 11am-1pm and Chuck Lambert’s Blues Band from 1-4pm. The event includes FREE admission and a variety of food offerings, sidewalk sales, pumpkin painting from noon-3pm at The Starving Artist, and a close-up view of a fire truck and ambulance for the children. Come experience autumn in a small town – open to the public, rain or shine from 10am-4pm. For more information, call 732-774-1391.

Saturday, October 11 – Sunday, October 12: The 16th Annual Keyport Screamin’ Country Jamboree will turn downtown Keyport into a buzzing festival with live music, delicious food and a vast variety of vendors from 11am-6pm. With a Rockabilly twist, this street festival promises a fun and exciting shopping experience for all ages, families and friends – an event not to be missed! In its 16th year, the event is well loved and established in the Keyport community and surrounding areas, and is FREE admission to all. For more information, call 732-739-5138.

Friday, October 17-Saturday, October 18 (and Fri., 10/24 and Sat., 10/25): Get ready to scream on Allaire Village’s Haunted Hayride. Take a trip through the backwoods full of ghouls, ghosts, zombies and more. Rides start at 6pm and admission (includes Hayride and Village) is $15/Adult, $10/Children under 12 (group rates available for 25 people or over). Purchase tickets in advance by visiting the link above. For more information, call 732-919-3500.

Sunday, October 18: Monmouth County residents can go green and have the opportunity to get rid of old documents and confidential files safely at Shred Day! Stop by anytime between 9am-1:30pm at Freehold Township’s Town Hall – open to the public and FREE to enter. For more information, call 732-683-8686, ext. 6721.

Saturday, October 25: Dress up the kids for Ocean Grove’s Halloween Parade! The event is FREE to the public and children of all ages can strut their costumes to all parade-goers. Parents, don’t forget to bring your camera to capture these moments! There will be prizes for best-dressed children and pets, and the parade will be held in Firemen’s Park at noon followed by trick or treating downtown.  For more information, call 732-774-1391.

Friday, October 31: Kids can start their trick-or-treating this Halloween at the Jackson Premium Outlets! Costumed children 12 and under are invited to trick-or-treat at participating stores from 5-8pm. Visit the Information Center where they will provide candy and treats while supplies last. For more information, call 732-833-0503.

If you’re looking to get your “scare” on, click here to view a list of the best haunted and spooky activities throughout New Jersey. For other Jersey Shore fall events and activities, click here. ENJOY!